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Jul 22, 2005 10:51 PM

LA Times review: Water Grill

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Let me preface this by saying that I just relocated back to Los
Angeles and that I haven't had a chance to go to L A's fine dining
restaurants in a long time. So seeing the Water Grill in the LA Times
Food section had me interested. I loved it when I lived here, I
couldn't wait to see what's going on.

I was to be very disappointed in the review (at least I think it was a
review). I finished reading the article wondering: How was the
restaurant itself? I could care less about the corporation or their
training, what the menu was like months/seasons ago or the owners. If
I did care I'd be reading the business section.
I want a real review with information about the dinning experience as
a whole. For instance: What are their first courses like? How was the
service or presentation? Does it still have that great ambiance and
professionalism? What about the bar and drinks? Or the wine list, what
did she have with the dishes? Do they still have the oyster bar? Do
they still shuttle to the theaters? I could go on...
Did Irene get her paper's sections wrong? Or should the article's
title be: "Cimarusti left the Water Grill and I can't get over it to
give a real review".
Instead of getting restaurant information from the review I called
them this morning. I got the basic information that should have been
in a restaurant review, some menus and I will answer the rest of my
questions when I go there next week.

In closing I was hoping someone out there could help me understand the
star rating system. What makes a four, three, two or one star
restaurant? And for curiosities sake: what is S. Irene Virbila's
background in food or qualifications as a critic? Who is she and why
does she matter?

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  1. SIV (as she's widely known on the Chowhound LA Board) tends to get a bad rap - there are some who say they'll always do the reverse of her recommendations. I don't agree with her every judgment necessarily, but I think she knows food and service and what makes a good restaurant. And while I know little about her background - I've lived in the LA area for only five years - I know that she's been on the local food scene for quite a while, as she is one of the people mentioned in a recent book by Ruth Reichl (who used to have SIV's job, and is now editor at Gourmet Magazine) as having been particularly supportive during her tenure here.

    The Water Grill is one of those places that gets reviewed periodically, and these updates are slanted towards people who have read those reviews over the years and want to know what's NEW. For a new kid in town, that's not so useful - what you need to consult are such things as the small-type listings in the LA Weekly, the LA Chowhound Message Board, or the restaurants themselves (they very often have websites, too).

    Those stars? One means it can be worth a special visit. Two means it might be worth traveling across town. Three and four declare it a major destination.